UK Tech Startup bridging the gender pay gap for women farmers in Sub-Saharan avocado farming
Biodiversity agri-tech start-up AgriSound is helping women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa bridge the gender pay gap by deploying its…
Biodiversity agri-tech start-up AgriSound is helping women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa bridge the gender pay gap by deploying its ground-breaking bee monitoring systems on female-led avocado farms in Kenya, helping to maximise pollination in poor soils.
AgriSound is a York-based insect monitoring technology specialist that is focused on pollination innovation.
The company’s creation of simple and low-cost cloud technology to monitor the health of bees in hives, as well as monitor their activity in commercial agricultural spaces, aims to revolutionise beekeeping and farming culture around the world.
The device analyses pollinator activity to ensure efficient and effective commercial pollination and an increase crop yield.
The project, named ‘Automated pollinator monitoring for improved Crop Health in Sub-Saharan Africa’, and supported by Innovate UK, aims to improve the consistency of yields and quality of large-scale and smallholder production in Kenya.
Using AgriSound’s innovative POLLYTM insect listening device, it is giving female-led farms real-time data and a greater insight to help them get the most out of their crops, which in turn is helping to alleviate poverty and food insecurity in the poorest areas.
Casey Woodward, founder and CEO of AgriSound, said: “Avocado is currently a growing industry in Kenya, offering the opportunity for producers at small and larger scales to increase profits and contribute to a sustainable food supply.
“Many small-scale farmers have switched to growing avocados in recent years as a strategy to cope with climate change, so much so that avocado accounts for nearly one-fifth of Kenya’s horticultural exports.
“This project to deploy our Polly pollinator monitoring device aims to help female farmers through monitoring pollinator activity and giving them real-time data that they can use to help combat the effects of climate change on their crops.”
According to research conducted by the International Food Policy Research Insitute (IFPRI), more than 70% of women in Africa work in Agriculture.
These farms are typically run by women who have taken on the role of primary caregivers for their families.
Many of these women have limited access to resources and education, which can make it challenging for them to expand their operations or increase their yields.
Female farmers are also often at a disadvantage as through additional challenges, like attaining land rights, gaining access to credit services, and exclusion from primary decision making.
In 2018, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas called on African states to ‘take all appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against peasant women and other women working in rural areas and to promote their empowerment.’
Alongside natural challenges facing their crop yields, there has been a sharp rise in avocado thefts in Kenya by militant ‘avocado gangs’. One Kenyan farmer reported that she loses ‘an average of two tonnes of fruits to thieves every season’. Therefore, boosting crop yield is also imperative to keeping their livelihood.
AgriSound’s very successful POLLYTM operates in a similar way to how a smart speaker functions.
The device is equipped with a microphone and environmental sensors, measuring temperature, light and humidity.
Each one is completely solar powered. Polly listens 24/7 for the sounds of insects and uses advanced sound-analysis to translate the data into activity scores.
Founder and CEO Woodward added: “Avocadoes are one of the UK’s health staples, but they take a lot of resource for little yield, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The aim of this project is to help the female farmers of Kenya become more profitable, by helping increase the efficiency of pollination.
“Ultimately, we are hoping for projects such as this could bring about meaningful change for crop yielding – not only for female-led Kenyan farms, but farmers who are struggling with crops worldwide.”
Issued on behalf of AgriSound by Faith PR. For further information contact [email protected] or call 01484 599886.
Notes to editors:
- Empowering Africa’s women farmers | IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas | FAO
- (PDF) WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE : CHALLENGES FACING WOMEN IN AFRICAN FARMING (researchgate.net)
- Kenyan vigilantes taking on avocado gangs – BBC News
- Grace Ngungi-Karanja: How I grow right avocados for export market | Nation
Founded in January 2020 by agri-tech expert Casey Woodward, AgriSound is a York-based technology company with a focus on pollination innovation. The creation of technology to look after bees in hives as well as monitor them in commercial agricultural spaces aims to revolutionise beekeeping and farming culture around pollinators like bees. Their newest project aims to revolutionise the understanding and care of mason bees, making ground-breaking steps into new markets that could potentially change the face of agricultural pollination using mason bees.
For more information, visit the AgriSound website: https://www.agrisound.io/